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Russia, and Iran’s banishment from Syria

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Analysis by PMOI/MEK


Iran, June 15, 2019 - On October 17, 2018, in a meeting held by a group called “the elite and intellectuals,” Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei criticized his president Hassan Rouhani for looking to the West and seeking negotiations. Khamenei suggested that a “look to the East” may be the solution.

Although Khamenei himself did not refer to any specific country, Iranian outlets close to the Supreme Leader’s faction described Russia and China as the vanguards of eastern countries.

Considering that eight months have passed since Khamenei’s statements about the right strategic approach for the Islamic Republic in its foreign relations, a look at Iran’s relations with Russia is very revealing.

Following Khamenei’s pro-East statements and his request for “caution about a look towards the West”, Rouhani’s faction refrained for some time from complaining about what they call Russia’s unfaithfulness. However, as the noose of international sanctions becomes tighter around Tehran’s throat, the song of “Russia’s treason and unfaithfulness,” and its cooperation with the West against Iran more than supporting it is sung again.

“Reports and clues indicate that the United States’ pressure on Russia and China has forced both countries to come to a covert agreement with America about Iran. In this regard, when the tensions between Iran and the U.S. escalated, Putin strangely said: ‘Russia is not a fire brigade to rescue everything.’ In his latest statements, [Putin] referred to the U.S.’ role and said: ‘We need to respect the United States,” and asked Iran “to start talking with the U.S.” the state-run newspaper Setareh Sobh wrote.

The newspaper then describes how Russia let Iran down when the Islamic Republic threatened to violate its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. “Putin said: ‘In [my] talks with the Iranian side, I’ve repeatedly said that in my opinion, it is in Iran’s interest to stay in the [nuclear] agreement, regardless of any development.’”

Nevertheless, despite Iranian media’s complaints about their “strategic ally”, they’ve tried their best not to mention their main grievance about being sent out of Syria.

Ali Bigdeli, an Iranian pundit close to Hassan Rouhani’s camp, says: “There are some doubts about Russia. Recently, Moscow has made some concessions and considering that this country is an oil partner to  Saudi Arabia, there are recent talks about [Russia] selling S-400 missiles to Saudi Arabia and other Arabic countries. In addition, Russia has close relations with Israel and it is possible that Russia makes a move contrary to Iran’s desires and it may be that this country is more attracted to Saudi Arabia and Israel [than Iran].”

“There are still no statements about China, but Beijing has also suspicious circumstances. Under the current situation, it is necessary that Iran doesn’t count on the Russia and China card and treks cautiously in its [Iran’s] diplomatic relations,” Bigdeli added.

Quoting Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Setareh Sobh also writes: “In the coming days, there will be a trilateral meeting with the participation of U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, and his Russian and Israeli counterparts, Nikolai Patrushev and Meir Ben-Shabbat in Jerusalem. This will be the first meeting of this kind between the representative of the three countries about Syria and the goal of it is to pave the path to expel Iran from Syria.”

“The future of Iran’s presence will be the main subject of this meeting. A meeting that is named ‘discussing regional security issues’ in the Middle East,” according to the state-run newspaper Setareh Sobh.

Further quoting Asharq Al-Awsat, the newspaper writes: “In this meeting, the three parties are seeking a plan of action connecting the irresistible proposals of the U.S. and its allies to Moscow on the one hand, and Russia’s promise to tangible measures about Iran’s role and this country’s military drawdown in Syria on the other.”

Asharq Al-Awsat further writes: “We are witnessing an important development in Russian policy. Tehran, while seeking help from mediators to buy a few months of time and bets on Japan, Germany, and Switzerland’s roles, realizes that before [even] sitting at the negotiating table, its most important cards (meaning its role in Syria) are almost burned.”

According to reports, the Israeli, Russian and U.S. national security advisers will meet on June 24 in Jerusalem.